Here are the other members of the Career Collective.  Jump around and read these articles.

(Hat tip to Toby Dayton)

Since the topic today for the Career Collective  is new resources for the jobseeker, I thought I would explain what we are doing at LINKUP.com since this new job search engine represents one of the most important new resources for job seekers in years.

I thought I’d provide you with some information regarding the LinkUp job search engine and specifically on the jobs data that results from our index. I know you are well aware of LinkUp’s mission, its business model, and its unique position in the online job listing space, but I always find it easier to provide a summary overview, even at the risk of being repetitive.

As most know by now, LinkUp is a job search engine that only indexes jobs from company websites. In Q3 ’09, we became the largest and fastest growing job search engine focused entirely on job listings that are found exclusively from corporate career portals on company websites. We are currently indexing over 22,000 company websites throughout the U.S. and LinkUp’s job search engine contains anywhere between 500,000 and 600,000 job listings on any given day (a number that obviously rises and falls with the job market).

The unique source of LinkUp’s job listings (company websites such as Microsoft.com, Google.com, Target.com, etc.) gives a very unique value proposition for both job seekers and employers alike. Because our index is updated every night, the jobs found on LinkUp are always current. More importantly, because we do not allow anyone to post jobs directly onto the site itself, we have eliminated all of the ‘garbage’ listings that pollute traditional pay-to-post job boards such as Monster and Careerbuilder, as well as the aggregators such as Indeed and Simplyhired that do nothing more than aggregate listings from thousands of job boards. These garbage listings consist of work-at-home scams, phishing posts, bogus listings designed to facilitate identity theft, ‘lead-gen’ businesses, and other questionable businesses with suspects openings.

Though obviously a legitimate component of the labor market, LinkUp has also eliminated job listings from headhunters, search firms, staffing companies, temporary staffing firms, and independent recruiters. While job posts from these sources are often real and potentially valuable for job seekers, this segment of the recruitment advertising sector is plagued with problems such as bogus listings designed only to collect resumes, duplicate listings for the same position, and many of the same ‘garbage listings’ problems that afflict traditional job boards.

When a job seeker clicks on a job listing on LinkUp, they are directed straight to that exact opening listed on the employer’s website, where they can complete an online application connected to the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS). We work with hundreds of ATS providers such as PeopleSoft, Taleo, Peopleclick, Kenexa, and Brassring, among many others.Much like Google’s AdWord platform, employers can initiate and manage paid search campaigns with LinkUp in order to sponsor their listings and receive placement in one of two sponsored ad slots on the top of the search results page above the organic listings. Employers then pay a per-click fee for candidates that we deliver to their corporate career portal. Organic search results (23 results per page) are always based on the relevancy of the listing to the search query and are never influenced by economics.

In exactly the way that Google has fundamentally transformed the online advertising world, LinkUp is doing the same in the recruitment advertising world with virtually an identical value proposition for advertisers. Recruitment advertising campaigns are more targeted and precise, the results are more transparent, and ad dollars are spent more efficiently due to a performance-based pricing model. (As an aside, Google itself cannot offer the kind of search engine results LinkUp does because their sponsored and organic listings have been monopolized by the job boards. To see the extent to which this has occurred, search on ‘nurse job’ or ‘engineering job’ on Google or any general search engine, and count how many pages of search results there are until the first actual company makes it into the organic or sponsored search results. It’s usually page 50 or later).

In any event, LinkUp has gained significant traction in the market place in the past few years with both employers and job seekers. Growth in unique visitors in 2009 over 2008 was 373%, total visits rose 510%, and pageviews rose 738%. Through August of this year, unique visitor traffic is up 65% from 2009, visits are up 107%, and pageviews are up 68%. Traffic gains have been generated largely via word of mouth, extremely positive reviews in mainstream, career-related, and technology media, and social media. Traffic has also been generated from mobile apps (iPhone, Android, iPad) and a Facebook app for employers that allows companies to automatically publish jobs from their corporate website onto their company Facebook ‘fan’ page.

Equally as important, paid search revenue is growing at a rapid and accelerating rate, an especially encouraging feat given the current environment where employers today typically have little or no need to advertise to generate candidate flow for job openings. Employers, especially large corporations, are increasingly desperate for better alternatives to the outdated and problem-laden job boards, and are concentrating their efforts around their corporate career portal on their own website. This affords them the ability to leverage stronger employment branding, more effective use of rich and interactive media as well as mobile and social media, and vastly superior search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

Most importantly, companies are seeking to build and maintain their own proprietary talent pools that are not at the mercy of job boards and other candidate/resume database providers. LinkUp’s search engine marketing (SEM) solutions, as well as our mobile and social offerings, are not only consistent with broader trends in recruitment advertising, we are helping shape and direct the continuing evolution of the industry itself.

I apologize for the lengthy overview of our business, but it hopefully provides not only a deeper understanding of our position in the industry but also the strength of our business model and our prospects for continued success. To a large extent as well, the quality of our job listing data stems from the completely unique and highly appealing attributes of our search engine itself.

In particular, the following elements are the attributes that I feel differentiate LinkUp’s jobs data from other labor market, employment, and jobs data sources.


Job listings are leading indicator of future hires

While some employment data sources rely on the number of people currently employed (i.e., ADP’s payroll report, the household survey), LinkUp’s data provides a snapshot of both current and future hiring activity. Certainly not all positions listed on a company website will be filled, but the trends evident in the data certainly provide an indication of both what the current employment environment is as well as what it is likely to be in the future. This is precisely how we were able to rightly challenge the consensus forecast for the December 2009 jobs report and make accurate, contrarian predictions again in the spring and summer of 2010.

LinkUp index includes unadvertised jobs

Increasingly, companies are centering their recruiting and talent acquisition efforts around their career portal on their company website. In the same way that companies reduced or completely eliminated advertising in the local daily newspaper starting 10 to15 years ago as better online alternatives came along such as Monster, Careerbuilder, and Yahoo HotJobs, those early online providers are now being replaced by SEO, SEM, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkUp.

It has been estimated that, historically, employers actively advertised less than 30% of their job openings at any given time, typically those that are harder to fill. The remaining 70% are not advertised but are filled by referrals, internal hires, candidates already in the database, and a variety of other methods. This ratio of advertised to unadvertised job openings is even more heavily skewed in a high unemployment environment such as the one we’re in today where employers have little or no need to advertise in order to source candidates.

But as more and more companies base the foundation of their talent acquisition around their company website, a larger and larger percentage of listings will never be advertised anywhere other than the employer’s website. As a result, employment data based on advertised listings will be harder to extrapolate and therefore less and less accurate.

LinkUp contains every single job opening listed on company websites

The corollary to including unadvertised jobs is that the LinkUp index includes every single job listed on each of the company websites in our index. Our search engine contains job listings ranging from the janitor to the CEO, and everything in between. We cover every single industry in every region of the country. We currently index over 20,000 companies large and small and are adding new companies every day. Through our highly sophisticated, proprietary, and scalable technology, we can add almost any company to the LinkUp index in a matter of minutes.

We believe there are (or will be) approximately 75,000 – 100,000 corporate websites in the U.S. with jobs listed on them, and we intend to index all of them as quickly as circumstances allow.

On a related note, LinkUp has been fully developed along international standards, and our 5-year plan envisions launching versions of our search engine in dozens of countries. We launched LinkUp in Canada in 2009 and the UK in April, 2010.

LinkUp contains no duplicate listings

Unlike job listing data that is aggregated from multiple sources (The Conference Board Help-Wanted Data Series, Wanted Technologies, etc.), there are no duplicate listings in the LinkUp data. We source our job listings from a single source – the employer’s corporate website itself. As a result, there are no duplicate listings in the index and no question as to the integrity of our data. We simply have no need to apply any type of algorithm or filter, which are very hard to develop and even harder to implement, to remove duplicate listings for the same position.

To get a sense of how significant a problem duplicates present, see Wanted Technologies’ forecast for the December ’09 jobs report. Wanted Technologies, whose entire business is forecasting employment data, estimated that the BLS report would show that 75,000 jobs were added in December when in fact, 85,000 jobs were lost. I’m assuming that duplicates were the source of error, although other flaws in their methodology might have contributed to the erroneous forecast as well.

Accurate tracking of new job listings

In our monthly jobs data, we report both new job listings and total job listings. New job listings are job openings that have been added to the company’s website that month, while total job listings include every unique position that has appeared on the site at any point during the month, including those that were on the site the previous month(s).

(One of the limitations of our search engine is that we are unable to index sites that rely on technology such as Flash that does not utilize unique URLs for job listings. Luckily, these types of sites account for less than 5% of the career portals we encounter). As a result of this framework, we can accurately distinguish between new and total job listings, thereby providing more granular jobs data with greater sensitivity towards newer listings.

No garbage listings

Unlike the Monster Index and the Conference Board’s Help-Wanted data that relies on job board data, LinkUp’s job listing data does not include any of the pollution that plagues traditional pay-to-post job boards. These garbage listings include job scams, phishing posts, work-at-home scams, identity theft, fraud, etc. In a high unemployment environment, the problem of garbage listings is particularly prevalent. Real job ads are way down due to low demand and very high supply of job seekers, while at the same time, there is a massive increase in the number of scam ads due to increasingly desperate job seekers who can more easily be victimized by scammers and criminals. These insidious listings are almost impossible for any traditional pay-to-post data source to filter out, regardless of what that source may claim they are doing to combat the problem.

No listings from headhunters, search firms, staffing & temp firms, etc.

LinkUp does not list any job openings from 3rd party intermediaries such as headhunters, search firms, staffing & temp firms, etc. While these are clearly a legitimate sector of the labor market and can provide valuable information as to the condition of the economy and jobs environment, they should be separated from full-time, ‘real’ job openings. Again, both data sets are important and relevant, but mixing the two together in a single data set creates, at best, a cloudy view of what is really happening in the labor market. In another recent development, the search firm ADECCO said that they are dramatically reducing their use of job boards.

Conclusion

While our core business has and most likely always will revolve around talent acquisition, paid search, and recruitment advertising, strategically leveraging the data inherent in our job search engine has always been a component of our long-range plan. To this point, however, the work we have done in developing a monthly jobs report has been casual at best, and more of a personal side project of my own.

My thought has been to assemble the data in at least a modestly defensible manner and publish our findings monthly. While I’m not sure I’d want to present our data at an economic conference quite yet, I feel meaningful progress in this area will come faster by supplying information to the public and improving it over time with the pressure of that public spotlight than keeping the project perpetually buried on my to-do list. As the

founder of LinkedIn said, “If you’re not slightly embarrassed by your 1.0 release, you released it too late.”

I am not unpleased with what we’re doing today in collecting and reporting our jobs data, and some of the recent calls we’ve made have been particularly gratifying. But there is no doubt that this area of our business is in its infancy and we are only scratching the surface of what we could and probably should be doing with the wealth of information at our fingertips.

As our index grows larger and our data becomes more valid and statistically significant, however, we are beginning to increase efforts to find the right partner to help us develop this area of our business. With the right partner and some modest additional resources invested in adding companies to the index and improving the architecture of the data, combined with benefiting from true economic expertise, we are confident that LinkUp’s search engine could be a phenomenal source of extremely compelling labor market data (not to mention other interesting applications such as corporate research, competitive intelligence, occupational trends, workforce analysis,